Thursday, March 24, 2016

Statistics in the OSR market

My OSR house rules have slowly evolved into a game of their own, and I've been kicking around the idea of publishing them after 'Bastards is all grown up and finding its own way in the world. To this end, I've done some amateur market research by way of straw polls. I'm sure none of these are statistically significant by way of sample size, but here they are.

Screencaps are here from the time at writing, but if you want to weigh in, I'll leave links to each below the poll itself.
This poll had the most results, and it confirms to what I predicted. The most popular edition chosen was Moldvay Basic, but nearly twice as many people weighed in and said that they didn't care one way or another about the specific edition. What did surprise me was that OD&D beat out BECMI/RC and AD&D by a decent margin. I can't be sure if this is because OD&D is more popular than I thought, or because more people thought it was underrepresented than the other editions.

Since the leading result didn't care what edition it was, that leads to the next question: how much do we care about faithfulness to the core material?
The results here are more definitive than the first question, but we have an even smaller sample size. That said, it completely conforms to my expectations. Because OSR stuff is so broadly compatible, the overwhelming majority seem more interested in seeing innovation than faithfulness to the old rules.

This last one I've been kicking around for a while. Book formatting is something I've written about before and it's an interesting topic for OSR. Depending on the edition and game, we've seen it done a number of ways. The results here surprised me.

I've never gotten to experience LBB OD&D, but I've always loved the physical presentation of it. The amateurish doodles give it a naive charm, and the nostalgia factor is high. The actual booklets themselves have a kind of versatility that you lose in single-volume sets, as they allow you to have multiple people looking different things up simultaneously. If you can acquire them separately, it also means you can have multiple copies of the character creation section if you need it to speed up the process. I think it may also be less intimidating to initiate a new player into the game with a half-sized 30-page booklet than handing them the 300-page player's guide from certain other editions of the game.

For the first day or so that I monitored this poll, all four options were at a dead heat, with at most a vote or two between them. I assumed that the single volume 8.5x11 would ultimately win out, as it is the most common form RPG books take. I was pleasantly surprised that the 6x9 took the lead. I've written about how much I love this format ever since I picked up the Burning Wheel Gold book.

Even if the above changes significantly after the time of posting, I think I will stick with the 6x9 as the target size for a new book. This is not just because I genuinely enjoy the form factor for it, but because it creates a secondary possibility as well. It's easy to lay out the book at 5.5x8.5 (half-page LBB size) first and create the game in such a way as it can stand as multiple booklets and then just slightly upscale the same layout to fit a single-volume 6x9 without changing page numbers. Print on demand being what it is, it would be easy to offer both for people to pick at their preference. I can easily see someone using the single-volume hardback and a couple extra character-creation booklets at the table.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Hunter - a Class for Lamentations of the Flame Princess (or other Old-School Fantasy games)

A simple martial class that does a decent job representing anything from a Solomon Kane style witch-hunter, to a dedicated dragon-slayer or duelist.

The Hunter

Solomon Kane by Draldede
XP, Saves, and HP as a fighter. Uses fighter combat options (but not ascending AB). 

Where the fighter is an unmatched engine of slaughter, the Hunter is specialist, forsaking general combat prowess in exchange for absolute mastery against their chosen prey.
Hunters begin with 3 points to spend on their choice of prey, a type of enemy against which they get a number of bonuses. Good prey categories include: Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Spirits/Spectres, Demons, Unintelligent Dead, Vampires, Magic-Users, Were-things, and so on.

Hunters can only choose a type of prey after they have spent some time studying it and have fought it in combat. On each level after the first, they gain 2 more points that they can spend on new or existing categories of prey, though the original conditions apply. To go from Vampires 1 to Vampires 2, you have to find, study and fight another vampire. The maximum amount of points they can assign to a given category of prey is equal to their current level.

Whenever they are making rolls against an enemy of a type designated as prey, they gain their ranks as a bonus to any ability, saves, attacks, or damage rolls against them. If a character had Sorcerers 3, they would gain a +3 to attack and damage rolls against them, saves against them, or any ability rolls that are directly concerning or in opposition to them.
The hunter can definitely outclass a fighter against the very specific enemies they have dedicated themselves to, but the fighter is definitely the more powerful opponent overall. This is particularly true if they have started to spread themselves out and have less than their maximum bonus at any particular level.
If you try to bring this into some other game, be sure to note that in LotFP only fighters gain attack bonuses normally. You may want to tone the prey bonuses down for games where everyone advances in their To Hit.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Beta Release - Part 3

Another Thursday, another release. Last week we got a ton of feedback on 90 pages of content and some very interesting discussions going on the forums. You guys have been phenomenally helpful. We tried to incorporate as much of that as time allowed, but we've still got a great deal of it ahead. That will be a project to carry us through the weekend.

In addition to some editing for clarity, this week we introduce two chapters that you have been eagerly awaiting.

Chapter 09: Full Contest gets into the core rules we use for chases, debates, and other prolonged skill-based conflicts.

Chapter 10: Melee Combat gets into the meat of our fighting system, which many of you have been speculating over for months now.

We haven't had as much time to work on everything this week as we had hoped, so the examples are still missing in certain areas. If our schedules allow, we may toss in a mid-week update before next Thursday to get everything taken care of and our release schedule back on track.

You can pick up your copy here or on our downloads page. As always, we'll be opening discussion threads for feedback on our forums.

Thanks for sticking with us, folks. Enjoy.

- The GH Crew